“Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret – it leads only to evil.” Psalm 37:8
The Bible makes it sound so easy, doesn’t it? Just don’t be angry, God seems to say. There is no need. And worrying about x, y, or z will only lead to bad things.
So you seek to instill good things in your children, but end up getting frustrated.
In those moments of pent up frustration the anger takes hold, and spills out by an involuntary force from within you. You don’t want to be angry with your children, and yet it feels so hard to continue on teaching them and guiding them patiently when they continue to forget or disregard what you try to teach them.
You start to worry about their future. You wonder if they will ever learn how to treat others with compassion. You are afraid of them choosing and sinking in evil ways. You fear for their eternal welfare. Your anger feels justified, but then you feel guilty. You wonder how your children will ever learn when you also continue to stumble.
That is when you realize that we are all on this journey together. You, your children, and the rest of the world whether they realize it or not. As a parent your job IS to teach your children the ways of Our Lord, and help them to grow in virtue. It doesn’t mean that you are never going to slip up yourself, but it does mean that your children will witness you trying again, and never giving up or losing hope. It’s being a witness of God’s love and mercy to your children, while also teaching them that there is a consequence for their actions.
In teaching your children, you will see yourself begin to grow. In reading this post, it already shows that you have gained an awareness of where you are struggling. Awareness is the first step toward change, but with it comes the responsibility to choose.
You have to choose to change. You have to choose your response of love. You have to choose to continue to be aware of your own shortcomings no matter how painful that might be. You have to choose to understand that this awareness and, dare I say, acceptance of your shortcomings will help you to grow. You have to choose to continue striving for growth even when it feels impossible.
“For nothing will be impossible with God.” Luke 1:37
Both of the verses above, contain an unspoken message, that is: Trust God. The next step in growth is to trust Him. Trust that He will give you the strength to overcome your anger and frustration. Trust that He will calm your heart and your mind in the heat of the moment. Then ask Him to help you. Invite Him in on this journey of overcoming that reaction of anger, and replacing it with words of peace and encouragement. Then strive to overcome this daily with God’s help.
As you strive daily to overcome this, you may find yourself in a season where you have done all of the above and still feel like you’re struggling. It is because this response has become a habit, and you will have to take some proactive action to break it while creating new habits.
During your daily prayer time (if you don’t already have a daily prayer time – start), or at the beginning or end of your day, take some time to journal out this struggle using a simple formula.
- First, write down all that went well concerning this struggle.
(How often did you feel angry? What triggered your anger? How often did you respond lovingly? What was your response? Even how you changed your response when you started by reacting. Etc.)
- Then write down all that didn’t go so well.
(How did you react in anger? What triggered your anger? How often did you respond in anger? Etc.)
- Finally, what you can do differently tomorrow.
(Awareness of what triggers your anger and how you can respond differently. Ways you can respond in various scenarios. Prayers for God’s help in the middle of frustration. Etc.)
What is important to remember about this process is that you are not going to be perfect. There will be days where you will react in anger more than you respond in love. However, as the days and maybe even weeks progress, you will notice that you become more aware of how you are responding in the middle of a frustrating situation. You may not respond well at first, but you will start to notice how you can shift in the moment from the angry reaction to the peaceful response. As you continue, those peaceful and loving responses will become your new habit through patient practice and the grace of God.
Choosing good, virtuous responses are never easy – they will always require some kind of effort on your part because we live in a fallen world. However, our Lord is merciful. He continues to be merciful in our failing so that we can grow in His love and be that example of Faith to our families and to the world.
These things I have spoken to you so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
For tips on how to continue to make God a priority and grow in relationship with Him as a busy mom, I invite you to download my free guide: 5 Steps to Strengthening Your Relationship with God.